History, natural splendor complement Lake Chatuge


Georgia Department of Economic Development

Its storyline dates back to the World War II era, and a field of 50 anglers will do battle with Lake Chatuge’s spotted and largemouth bass during the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on this Hiawassee River reservoir Sept. 20-23.

The Hiawassee’s hydroelectric potential piqued the interest of private entities since the early 1900s, but the conversation gained traction when the Tennessee Valley Authority took over the region’s flood control operation in the 1930s. Responding to the war-heightened demand for electricity, largely to power East Tennessee’s aluminum production, the TVA proposed several dams on the Hiawassee and other Tennessee River tributaries.

Originally called the Hayesville project, the Chatuge Dam project was authorized on July 16, 1941, with work beginning the next day.

Specs and stuff

By the numbers, Lake Chatuge encompasses 10.9 square miles in northern Georgia and southern North Carolina. As the uppermost of three Hiawassee River reservoirs, Chatuge was initially impounded to hold water that could be released as needed to boost the power generation of the downstream Hiawassee Dam, but the 1954 addition of a small generator creates hydroelectric output.

Situated just north of the North Carolina-Georgia border, the Chatuge Dam comprises impervious earthen fill (earth and rock with a strengthening core made from a soil-cement mixture) fortified by riprap. Standing 144 feet high and 3,336 feet long (including the concrete spillway), with a flood storage capacity of 62,619 acre feet, Chatuge Dam was completed on Feb. 12, 1942, at a cost of a little over $9 million.

With a maximum depth of 144 feet, and an average of 30, Lake Chatuge has been hovering right around the 1,922.73-foot level in recent weeks.